These free vintage shorebird printables are beautiful & classy enough to hang in any room of the house! Available in various colors & sizes.
Back in the spring of 2018 I was visited by a glorious omen while mowing the lawn of our Connecticut house. I puttered about the front yard in my John Deere mower, thoughts slowly percolating like the La Brea Tar Pits. Presently, a shadow crossed over me. Something had momentarily blotted out sun. I snapped out of my reverie and craned my neck towards the heavens.
Past the roof and flying towards the treeline!
I couldn’t discern the make or model of the beast – I only knew it was big.
Great Blue Heron?
I gave them all equal odds, though the pterodactyl has been tough to spot for the past 65 million years or so.
Whichever winged goliath had visited me, it was gone, so I turned my attention back to the lazy lanes of mowed grass and my slowly percolating thoughts.
I angled the John Deere left towards the house from the far end of the front lawn and happened to glance up just as a white blur occluded the sun as it raced over my right shoulder towards the tree line in back. This time I’d seen it!
It was a Great Blue Heron – a majestic lord of the airstream and king of the breezes!
It had flown so close to me – so low to the ground…it must be a sign of great things to come!
I turned off the ignition and dialed my babes as the mower blades came to rest. Silence fell and I was wrapped in warm spring air.
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When Handan answered, I told her of the encounter. A visit from a Great Blue Heron was an auspicious event for those who pay heed to such things.
I was sure something momentous was going to happen – something monumental!
Why else would the noble shorebird pick me to fly over, not once, but twice?
Thus began the Spring of the Heron. Several more times over the ensuing weeks, I was visited by the mighty bird. He swooped over the pool as I skimmed leaves from its surface. He landed on the shed as I sat on the deck. He paraded around the back lawn, putting on a regal display for his chosen human. He would often land in the branches of a dead tree on the edge of our property. One day, I was able to catch a few pictures of him while he preened and posed.
And he was obviously an avian of excellent breeding and refined taste. Why else would he be so interested in the pond Handan and I spent weeks of backbreaking effort to transform from a water-filled rockpile into an oasis of serenity and bliss?
From his first days admiring my colossal efforts of pool-keeping, he gradually migrated his yellow-eyed gaze and attention to all the marvels and delights of our magnificent pond-scape – the cedar cube landscape lights, the waterdrop solar lights, the garden hose wreath, and the fabulous koi fish.
This bird…this bird! So intelligent and doubtless a harbinger of wondrous things to come!
I remember well his last visit.
I remember the cool Saturday morning air, as if spring had been visited in the night by the ghost of winter.
I remember the mist.
I remember the yellow eye. The baleful yellow eye.
I remember the slow strut around the pond. He looked at me and I at him, and then he took wing into the mist, never to be seen again.
Later that morning, my babes and I went shopping. We were out most of the day. After we returned, I walked out to the pond to feed the koi.
There were no koi. Only lifeless water.
My gray friend with the yellow eye was no friend at all. He wasn’t visiting me. He wasn’t the least bit interested in me! All his visits were nothing more than a thief doing reconnaissance. He was a stick-legged con-bird with a ravenous craving for a nice fish dinner…my fish!
Okay, so he played me like a jaw-harp at a jug band jamboree, but I still have a soft spot for herons – great blue, purple or any other flavor.
And the species redeemed itself when we first visited the Emerald Coast. In fact, we hadn’t even moved yet from Jacksonville. Handan’s company wanted her to see the new office and meet the new team, so we were put up in a little hotel on the Gulf in Fort Walton Beach, just before the bridge to Okaloosa Island. It was January, and Florida was acting a little bit like New England. It was cold – frigidly cold for Florida standards. My babes and I ate our first meal together in the Florida panhandle at a fun little place called GI Jade Tiki Bar and Bistro. After walking back to the hotel, we took a little detour down to the water. The hotel sat up against the intercoastal – a thin strip of sea bounded by the mainland and Okaloosa Island not more than a quarter mile away. As Handan and I strolled slowly and quietly in the pitch-dark and dead-calm night, the barest movement caught my eye from the water.
There, not 5 feet away was a glorious great blue heron standing in the shallow waters. He looked at me and I at him, yet he didn’t move a single muscle. He was hunting, and we were interrupting his night’s work.
We backed away from the water’s edge and left the heron to hunt in peace.
Handan took that encounter as a sign that we had landed in the place we were meant to be. This was going to be home.
Free vintage shorebird printables
We designed these free vintage shorebird printables in two sizes: 11×14 inch, and 16×20 inch JPGs. As all our JPG files are high resolution, you can scale them up or down as necessary. 16×20 inch scales down to 12×15 / 8×10 / 4×5 inches with no problems. If you need help with scaling down these printables so you can print them on your home printer, then make sure you check out Handan’s “How To Easily Resize Pictures” post.
Note: If you don’t have a large format printer like the Canon i8720 Printer (prints up to 13×19 inches) and are wondering the best place to get these large printables printed bigger than 8×12, we recommend trying Staples in your area or Amazon print shop. Both stores offer custom-sized prints on matte or glossy paper, and they both cost about the same. Staples also offers Engineering Prints, which are really affordable for large-format prints, but in some areas (like ours), they must be ordered from their online print shop.
Now it’s time to download today’s printables – you’ll find them under the “Vintage Illustrations” and “Coastal & Nautical” sections of The VIP Patch.
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